Unboxing Truth and Reconciliation with Mallory Yawnghwe nitisîyihkâson
In honour of National Day of Truth and reconciliation, we're spotlighting an Indigenous business working to empower Indigenous entrepreneurs and artists
By ATB Financial 24 September 2022 3 min read
ATB Financial respects and acknowledges the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a day of reflection for the history, lasting effects, and intergenerational trauma of Canada's residential school system. We stand beside and support Indigenous survivors, their families and communities. In recognition of the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, ATB has teamed up with Alberta-based and Indigenous-owned subscription service Indigenous Box to create an Orange t-shirt activation for our team members. Interested Albertans can purchase their own Indigenous Box - Every Child Matters t-shirt, or other amazing merchandise here.
What is Indigenous Box?
Indigenous Box is a unique subscription box and corporate gift service that promotes Indigenous entrepreneurship by creating opportunities for emerging, under-represented and established Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs to reach new customers and enter new market spaces. The boxes, curated into collections like the ‘ Grateful for the Day’ Self Care box, feature products sourced from Indigenous businesses and artists.
Founder and CEO, Mallory Yawnghwe nitisîyihkâson collaborates with dozens of small, medium and established Indigenous businesses from across North America to make Indigenous Box possible.
As Yawnghwe nitisîyihkâson explains, it’s much more than a business, or a box of stuff - it’s culture through commerce. When you purchase one of their subscription boxes or use their corporate gifting services, you’re investing in multiple Indigenous businesses, communities and families.
“Indigenous Box is a movement made up of thousands of Canadians coming together to create the future that they want to see,” she says.
Making space for Indigenous Businesses
In addition to years of experience in supply chain management and procurement, Yawnghwe nitisîyihkâson’s passion for lifting up her community and stimulating the Indigenous supply chain is why she works with businesses like Apple and Facebook.
“Canada’s Indigenous population is growing faster than any other demographic in Canada and with Indigenous women starting businesses nine times faster than anyone else, people will have no choice but to recognize the importance of making space for Indigenous businesses,” she says. “A strong Indigenous supply chain means a strong Canadian supply chain.”
Since launching with a $500 grant and packing boxes in her home in 2021, Indigenous Box has grown to have a sprawling fulfillment centre at the Edmonton International Airport Sustainability Campus. Despite launching amid a pandemic, Yawnghwe nitisîyihkâson and her team haven’t let the shifting economy or changes in consumer practices get in their way.
“We have a saying around the fulfillment centre,” says Yawnghwe nitisîyihkâson. “If we don’t know how to do something, we say it is always figure-outable. We have no choice but to keep moving forward and find a solution, so we just put our heads down and work.”
Determined to support other Indigenous entrepreneurs, Yawnghwe nitisîyihkâson and her team prioritize learning to keep them on the cutting edge of ecommerce practices. “I think people sometimes forget that Indigenous businesses are just as tech and future-friendly as everyone else,” says adds.
How can we help elevate Indigenous entrepreneurs?
ATB Financial is committed to listening to Indigenous Peoples, in Alberta and beyond, so that we can be part of meaningful change towards Indigenous inclusion and prosperity. With that in mind we’re proactively implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Call to Action #92 - a Call to Action for Corporate Canada.
In addition to activating on this call to action, our partnership with Indigenous Box means our team members will be out in the community sporting this year's orange shirt proudly. The Indigenous Box Every Child Matters t-shirt, designed by Indigenous artist Jonathon JCAT Cardinal from Goodfish Lake Cree Nation, is available for all to purchase. Fifty per cent of the proceeds go directly to the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada. It’s an opportunity to show support for important social services for Indigenous families and make space for Indigenous entrepreneurs.
And, as Mallory reminds us, financial reconciliation is a critical way to bolster the Indigenous business community, but it’s not the only way to help. “Do your part by making space for Indigenous People and honouring those who did not make it to these spaces,” adds Mallory. “Go out and learn, it is the most important part.”
All ATB Financial branch locations will be closed on Friday, September 30 in recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation but clients can still connect to ATB through online or telephone banking, the ATB Financial mobile app, or receive after hours support by calling the Client Care Center at 1-800-332-8383.